Choosing a headshot photographer is an important decision; the headshot is your introduction to the industry. Without a great one, many doors will never open. Here is some of the most important advice I can offer when selecting a photographer-
1. Look for variety! This is the single most important consideration. Your headshot must be unique to you. There’s nothing more disheartening than going to an audition with your brand new headshot, only to see ten other actors with the very same shot! Make sure the photographer you choose features a variety of angles, backgrounds, compositions, poses and expressions on their website. When looking through a photographer’s portfolio, you want each image to surprise you.
2. Feel comfortable with the photographer. Usually you can get a good idea of their energy through the website, but pick up the phone and give them a call as well. If you feel it’s important, sit down with them for a consultation. If you leave a headshot session wanting to hang out with your photographer, you’ve had a terrific shoot.
3. Make the investment in professional headshots. If you want to be taken seriously by the industry, the quality of your headshot must project professionalism. If you’re too thrifty, you’ll probably be told to get new headshots once you meet an agent or casting director. If you make the investment initially, you shouldn’t have to do it again until your look changes.
4. When reviewing a photographer’s work, look at the quality of light- it should be warm and even light with detail in the face and very little shadowing. Make sure the backgrounds compliment the subject without distracting from them. The expressions and body positions should look comfortable and friendly.
5. Your headshot should project your best energy. Almost every actor is nervous before a shoot, so look at the expressions of the subjects in the photographer’s portfolio. Ask yourself, “Would I want to meet these actors? Do they look friendly and easy to talk to? Do they seem relaxed, approachable and confident?” If so, the photographer knows how to create an atmosphere that brings out each person’s best qualities.
6. Photographers are only as good as their worst photographs. Don’t just concentrate on the headshots you love- look at the ones you don’t like as well. Even if you’re not crazy about a photo, is it consistent with their overall body of work? The mark of a professional is consistency. If the quality of their images varies wildly, getting a great headshot is the luck of the draw. You don’t want to leave your career to chance. Here's an idea- ask the photographer to email you the proof sheets of three shoots they've done this week. Everyone has online proof sheets now, so all they have to do is email you the link. If they say no, chances are 1) they're not working enough to have three shoots a week (very bad sign) or 2) the proofs are not consistent with the images on their website (even worse).
Finally, if you want really great headshots, before your shoot enjoy a latte from Joe Coffee, the best coffee house in NYC.
My son enjoying the best latte in NYC